Recently, Blenderman suddenly announced an issue: “We eat way too much meat. Why do we eat so much meat?” Wooahh there, where did that come from? Also, who are “we”?
However, he has a point. We, as in, the household, the flat, the inhabitants of Casa Dittatrice, really do eat way too much meat. In Scotland, I’d eat meat maybe twice a month. Here, I don’t eat meat maybe twice a month. It’s ridiculous. I always used to say that eating meat every day was ridiculous, stupidly unhealthy, unnecessarily polluting, 21st-century extravagant, and yet I’ve fallen into the carnivore’s trap.
I blame the way Italians structure their meals. Here, there’s the whole story of having a primo, or first course, and then a secondo, or second course. Your first is normally something big and/or carby to fill you up (pasta, rice or, in emergencies, soup), after which you’ll have a secondo, something slightly smaller and, on weekdays, less elaborate, that normally consists of meat and/or vegetables. In the beginning I found it really difficult to get out of my habit of cooking one single big dish for dinner, but now that I’m used to it, I’m having trouble remembering the things I used to eat in Scotland. The only things that come to mind, bar the ones which have meat in them, suddenly seem really poor dinners. For some reason whatever I used to eat back there just feels ridiculous when I’m trying to come up with something nutritious for a bunch of Italians. The habit of having meat after the primo has just crept up on me, and I find it hard to shake it.
Plus, maybe even more than that, I just really like meat. I hate to admit it, and truly, I never even thought I liked meat so much, but it’s true, I love it. I can’t get enough of it. But Blenderman is right. We eat too much of it, and we’re going to have to cut down. So I’m easing myself into a slightly less carnivorous lifestyle with aubergines. Aubergines are my favourite thing in the whole wide world, just after meat. They fill you up nicely and they’ve got that nice, dark flavour that no other vegetable seems to have. If you spice them up, they’re what Italians call la fine del mondo, “the end of the world” (or “really goddamn delicious”).
Pasta with spicy aubergines for two!
Go out to procure these delicious edible substances:
- 1 aubergine
- one small dried chili
- one clove of garlic
- three tomatoes, or, since they’re out of season, half a tin of peeled tomatoes
- olive oil
- some basil if you have any
- enough pasta
Chop your aubergine into cubes. Sprinkle them with salt, chuck them in a colander, put a small plate with some weights on top and wait half an hour for them to leak out their juice. You can skip this if you’re in a really bad hurry.
Chop up your garlic and your chili, gently fry them in some olive oil on low heat. Add your aubergine, turn up the heat to medium, and fry it for a while. Then add the tomatoes (chopped up) and some water, if it’s looking kinda dry. Add salt (and possibly some sugar, depending on the quality of your tomatoes) to taste, then leave it to simmer for 20 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until your aubergine goes nice and soft.
Boil your pasta, mix it with the sauce, top with some basil and, if you like, parmesan and serve just like that.